Fresh from a screening at the New York Film Festival, and functioning as a trailer for MoMA’s upcoming Stones show, Peter Whitehead’s legendary, long unavailable documentary, reedited and retitled “The Rolling Stones: Charlie is My Darling – Ireland 1965” has its theatrical premiere Friday at IFC Center.
Whitehead was an underground hero in his own right, the original rock’n’roll documentarian, when the Stones commissioned him to film their quick summer-of-‘65 Irish tour. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was topping the charts, the band was in the bloom of youth and the first flush of fame, still flying coach and reasonably accessible to their fans. The movie’s most amazing scene has a rowdy audience storming the stage during a performance of the pounding, incantatory, Mick Jagger maracas-shaker “I’m All Right” and just taking over. (Some will be carried out on stretchers.) Security is subsequently tightened, to judge from Bill Wyman’s evil little smile as another crowd frenzies to little avail during “Satisfaction.”
More than just improvisatory insolence of Jagger’s onstage strut, the casual energy of the Stones’ 1965 sound (big beat, brazenly looped guitar hooks) is still thrilling—not so much the world’s greatest rock band as the world’s greatest garage blues band. What’s fascinating here is the band’s backstage fascination with the Beatles who, the biggest act in the world, were off touring the US even as “Charlie is My Darling” was shot. The Stones jam “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and riff out on “Eight Days a Week.” A few scenes later, Mick can be heard scatting the beginning of “I Feel Fine.” It’s weird and wonderful and also very funny.
So far as I know, the lone John Lennon-Paul McCartney composition recorded by the Stones was “I Wanna Be Your Man”—too bad there weren’t others.
Photo Credit: Irish Photo Archive